From Seventeen Year Old Me, to Seventeen Year Old You

by Grace Evans

Today my sister turns 17 years old. When I was 17, I asked one of my friends to cut off all of my hair in her bathroom in a spontaneous burst of self-reinvention. I had my first serious boyfriend. I failed my driving test, not for the last time. I was in love with Chris Carrabba from Dashboard Confessional. I started making zines, and I was 17 when I decided where to apply for university. In the same year I had sex for the first time and was twelfth in line for the midnight book release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Understandably those two things did not happen on the same night. 

And my sister is only on day one of all that magical possibility! I’ve collected some a little bit of wisdom from my friends, who shall remain nameless, from when they were 17, just to give my sister a little bit of a head start. Any advice from your seventeen year-old self to add?

Happy Birthday Ruby! Life lessons for the modern seventeen year-old, from those who have been there: 

When I was 17 I learned to not tell anyone, especially any gossipy twins, any embarrassing sexual behavior (even if it only embarrasses the other person) because then everyone will know and that other person will hate you forever.

One thing I learned when I was 17 is that if a guy’s speech impediment is so severe that he can’t say your name properly, don’t date him, because the sex is weird.

Experiment now with your hair color and clothes because high school doesn’t even matter and there’s literally nobody to impress.

When I was 17 my friend gave me a copy of the history exam because someone had stolen it from the teacher’s desk. I held on to it for a day and thought about it and thought about it. I finally tore it up and studied hard and got a mediocre mark on the exam. However I did cheat every week on Latin vocab tests.

When I was 17, my two best friends and I skipped school to drive to Michigan to see one of our favourite bands! Less impressive: none of us had a car or a license, so their parents had to drive us there and we got stopped at the border because I was under 18 and some other person’s parents were trying to take me out of the country!

Pick the school/career path that you want, regardless of what your parents say or whether or not any of your friends are going that same route. Chances are your gut instincts will be right.

Stop reading a book if you think it sucks after 50 pages. 

When I was 17 my friends and I would spend hours driving around in the country with all the windows down, just blaring the music. We thought we were super-cool.

When I was 17 I fell in love for the first time. And now I’m going to marry the boy I fell in love with.

When I turned 17 I was so afraid of becoming a jerk because every 17 year old I knew turned out to also be a jerk. Turns out if you are destined to be a jerk, it doesn’t matter what age you are, let alone being seventeen.

Wear practical shoes.

When I was 17 my three best friends and I all had boyfriends at the same time. It was like a TV show and glorious for the few weeks it lasted. Happy, teenage dating bliss didn’t last long and resulted in the regular trading of the “Boys are Dumb” mixed CD.

Never mix lemon vodka with fieldberry juice. You will barf.

When I was 17, I used to drive with my ex-girlfriend to the top of a parking garage once it had closed for the evening. One night we were sitting inside of the car watching the lights of the town when all of a sudden a dark figure emerged at the driver’s side window. We started the car and quickly drove away and crashed it into a wall in the garage. Turns out it was just a security guard wondering if we were OK, and since then I’ve learned to think things through before driving recklessly into a wall. I think. 

I learned that if you get drunk and dance, you will forever be known as the girl that drinks and dances.

When I was 17, my three friends and I would have a sleepover every Thursday night. One Thursday we watched Love Story and I cried so hard I threw up all the junk food I ate. We slept in and had to take a taxi to school the next morning.


What did you wish you knew then that you know now? Or what did you finally figure out when you were 17? 

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